Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 16 (Jan-Mar 1988) p. 2.


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From the Editor

With this issue we return to theatre after a long time. One question which has been worrying the practitioner and commentators on theatre in our country has been what does one make of the traditional theatre in India? The elite has in a way solved the problem by making it an export commodity. Western commentators like Schechner would probably look upon it as some kind of exotica, the beauty of which lies in the fact that no 'modem7 meanings can and need be read into it. Anuradha Kapur's essay on the Ram Lila of Ram Nagar provides a way of seeing which is distinct and different from either approach. In the process she has explored not only the dramatic space and dramatic time and their varieties in our traditional theatre but has dwelt at some length on what could be described as the reception-aesthetic of the Ram Lila. (One may not entirely share her view that the term Lila is a technical term of the Hindu theology. Isn't there an inherent contradiction between Lila and theology?) In her exploration of the dramatic form of Ram Lila she has, a la Abhinavagupta, gone into the Sanskrit word for character—Patra, which also means vessel. Abhinavagupta also talks of the Patra as a vessel of wine. He limits the word, however, to mean the instrument which makes enjoyment of wine possible— Aswadopayah. Anyway it is interesting to see how a modem commentator in her explorations of the traditional theatre has in a manner of speaking rediscovered Abhinavagupta and has reinterpreted him in modern terms.


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